Armando Iannucci

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Armando Iannucci
Armando Iannucci at Cheltenham Literary Festival 2010 (tighter crop).jpg
Iannucci at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2010
Birth name Armando Giovanni Iannucci
Born (1963-11-28) 28 November 1963 (age 50)
Glasgow, Scotland,
United Kingdom
Medium Television, film, radio, stand up comedy
Nationality British
Years active Since 1990
Genres Sitcom, political satire
Influences Woody Allen, Antony Jay, Jonathan Lynn
Influenced Damon Beesley, Iain Morris, John Oliver, Chris Addison, Steve Coogan
Spouse Rachel Jones (since 1990)

Armando Giovanni Iannucci, OBE (/ɑrˈmænd jəˈni/; born 28 November 1963) is a Scottish[1] satirist, writer, television director and radio producer of Italian descent. Born in Glasgow, he studied at Oxford University and left graduate work on a PhD about John Milton to pursue a career in comedy.

Rising quickly through BBC Scotland and BBC Radio 4, his early work with Chris Morris on the radio series On the Hour was transferred to television as The Day Today. A character from this series, Alan Partridge, went on to feature in a number of Iannucci's television and radio programmes including Knowing Me, Knowing You and I'm Alan Partridge. In the meantime, Iannucci also fronted the satirical Armistice review shows and in 2001 created his most personal work, The Armando Iannucci Shows, for Channel 4.[2]

Moving back to the BBC in 2005, Iannucci created the political sitcom The Thick of It as well as the spoof documentary Time Trumpet in 2006.[2] Winning funding from the UK Film Council, he directed a critically acclaimed feature film In the Loop featuring characters from The Thick of It in 2009. As a result of these works, he has been described by The Daily Telegraph as "the hardman of political satire".[3] Other works during this period include an operetta libretto, Skin Deep, and his radio series Charm Offensive.

Iannucci's latest television project is the HBO political satire Veep. In March 2012 it was announced that he is working on his first novel, Tongue International, described as 'a satirical fantasy about a privatised language'.[4]

Early life[edit]

Iannucci was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His father, also called Armando, is from Naples, Italy, and his mother was born in Glasgow, to an Italian family.[5] His father, who came to Scotland in 1950, ran a pizza factory. Armando has two brothers and a sister. He was educated at St Peter's Primary School, St. Aloysius' College, Glasgow, the University of Glasgow[6] and University College, Oxford, where he read English literature gaining an MA in 1986.[7] In his teens he thought seriously about becoming a Roman Catholic priest.[8] He abandoned graduate work on 17th-century religious language, with particular reference to Milton's Paradise Lost, to pursue his career in comedy.

Career[edit]

1990s[edit]

After making several programmes at BBC Scotland in the early 1990s such as No' The Archie McPherson Show, he moved to BBC Radio in London, making radio shows including Armando Iannucci for BBC Radio 1, which featured a number of comedians he was to collaborate with for many years, including David Schneider, Peter Baynham, Steve Coogan and Rebecca Front.

Iannucci first received widespread fame as the producer for On the Hour on Radio 4, which soon transferred to television as The Day Today. He received critical acclaim for both his own talents as a writer and a producer, and for first bringing together such comics as Chris Morris, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Peter Baynham and Steve Coogan. The members of this group went on to work on separate projects and create a new comedy "wave" pre-New Labour: Morris went on to create Brass Eye, Blue Jam and the Chris Morris Music Show; Stewart Lee and Richard Herring created Fist of Fun and This Morning with Richard Not Judy.

Baynham was closely involved with both Morris's and Lee & Herring's work — simultaneously at one point. Lee would go on to co-write the controversial Jerry Springer: The Opera, but perhaps the most famous "alumnus" of this group is Steve Coogan's character Alan Partridge, who first appeared in On the Hour, and has featured in multiple spin-off series. Between 1995 and 1999, Iannucci produced and hosted The Saturday Night Armistice.

2000s[edit]

In 2000, he created two pilot episodes for Channel 4, which became The Armando Iannucci Shows. This was an eight-part series for Channel 4 broadcast in 2001, written with Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil. The series consisted of Iannucci pondering pseudo-philosophical and jocular ideas and fantasies inbetween surreal sketches. Iannucci has been quoted as saying it is the comedy series he is most proud of making. He told The Metro in April 2007 "The Armando Iannucci Show [sic] on Channel 4 came out around 9/11, so it was overlooked for good reasons. People had other things on their minds. But that was the closest to me expressing my comic outlook on life."[9]

After championing Yes Minister on the BBC's Britain's Best Sitcom, Iannucci devised, directed and was chief writer of The Thick of It, a political satire-cum-farce for BBC Four.[6] It starred Chris Langham as an incompetent cabinet minister being manipulated by a cynical Press Officer, played by Peter Capaldi and based on Tony Blair's former Press Secretary Alastair Campbell. The series was broadcast in two-parts in 2005 before an expanded cast starred in two specials and a "third" series.

Based on a format he had used in Clinton: His Struggle with Dirt in 1996 and 2004: The Stupid Version, in mid-2006, his spoof documentary series Time Trumpet was shown on BBC 2. The series looked back on past events through highly edited clips and "celebrity" interviews, looking back on the present and near-future from the year 2031. One episode, featuring fictional terrorist attacks on London and the assassination of Tony Blair, was postponed and edited in August 2006 amid the terrorism scares in British airports at that time. Jane Thynne, writing in The Independent, accused the BBC of lacking backbone.[10]

A recent U.S. television project is the HBO political satire Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, set in the office of Selina Meyer, a fictional Vice President of the United States.[11] Veep uses a similar cinéma-vérité filming style to The Thick of It. Three seasons have so far been produced or planned, running between 2012 and 2014.

Other work[edit]

Despite his involvement in many facets of British comedy as a producer, writer and performer, Iannucci has remained relatively unknown to the British public. His non-television projects include Smokehammer, a web-based project with Chris Morris, and a book in 1997 entitled Facts and Fancies, compiling some articles from his newspaper columns, which was turned into a BBC Radio 4 series. A little-known radio series called Scraps With Iannucci followed late in 1998, in which Iannucci used his tape-fiddling skills to present a review of the year.

He has appeared on Radio 3 talking about classical music, one of his passions, and collaborated with composer David Sawer on Skin Deep, an operetta, which was premiered by Opera North on 16 January 2009. He has also presented three programmes for BBC Radio 3, including Mobiles Off!, a 20-minute segment on classical concert-going etiquette. He was a regular columnist for the classical music magazine Gramophone.[11]

He directed a series of Post Office television adverts, featuring the actors John Henshaw, Rory Jennings and Di Botcher alongside guest stars such as Joan Collins, Bill Oddie and Westlife.[12]

He has also been working on his first novel, Tongue International, a satirical fantasy about the promotion of a "for-profit language".[4][11]

Film directing[edit]

In January 2009, his first feature film In the Loop, in the style of The Thick of It, was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It was the first cinema film to be directed by Iannucci, after his contribution to Tube Tales in 1999. The film has been applauded by critics, both in Britain and the US,[13] and was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 2009.[14] The film secured the eighth highest placing in the UK box office in its opening week – despite its relatively insignificant screening numbers. According to the British Film Institute screenonline, Iannucci had previously failed to secure funding for a historical comedy film in 2003.[2]

Iannucci used his BBC press pass to enter the US State Department headquarters whilst researching the film, saying how he just turned up and claimed to be "here for the 12.30". Iannucci spent an hour inside taking photographs which were used for the film's set designs.[15]

Recognition[edit]

Iannucci has won two Sony Radio Awards and three British Comedy Awards. In 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy.[16] He was also subject of a 2006 edition of The South Bank Show.

In January 2006 he was named News International Visiting Professor of Broadcast Media at the University of Oxford,[17][18] where he has delivered a series of four lectures under the title "British Comedy – Dead Or Alive?".

In June 2011, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Glasgow to recognise his contribution to film and television.

At the 2011 British Comedy Awards, Iannucci received the Writers' Guild of Britain Award.[19]

He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to broadcasting.[20][21][22] Alastair Campbell's response to his appointment was "Three little letters can have more impact than you realise", to which Iannucci replied, via Twitter, "WMD"[23] (a reference to Campbell's role in preparing the "September Dossier" prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq).

In July 2012 Iannucci received an honorary Doctorate (DLitt) from the University of Exeter.

Personal life and politics[edit]

In 1990, he married Rachael Jones, whom he met when she designed the lighting for his one-man show at Oxford.[24] They have two sons and one daughter and currently live in Hertfordshire, having previously lived in Buckinghamshire.[23]

He is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity supporting women through difficult pregnancies. In April 2012 he abseiled from the top of the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford to raise money for the hospital's specialist pregnancy unit.[25]

In the 2010 general election he supported the Liberal Democrats, stating: "I'll be voting Lib Dem this election because they represent the best chance in a lifetime to make lasting and fair change to how the UK is governed."[26] After the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition of 2010 was established, however, he expressed doubts over his continued support for the party, saying he was 'wavering' on many issues and has admitted to 'queasiness' over the Coalition's economic measures. He also seemed to contemplate targeting the Liberal Democrats in the fourth series of The Thick Of It, rather as the first three had targeted what he perceived as the failings within the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.[27]

In 2004, Iannucci described Woody Allen as his "all-time comedy hero".[28]

Filmography[edit]

Television[edit]

Radio[edit]

Film[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Facts and Fancies (Michael Joseph, 1997) ISBN 0-7181-3951-8
  • Alan Partridge: Every Ruddy Word All the Scripts: From Radio to TV. And Back by Steve Coogan, Peter Baynham, Armando Iannucci, Patrick Marber (Michael Joseph, 2003) ISBN 0-7181-4678-6
  • The Thick of It: The Scripts by Jesse Armstrong, Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell (Hodder & Stoughton, 2007) ISBN 978-0340937068
  • The Audacity of Hype: Bewilderment, Sleaze and Other Tales of the 21st Century (Little Brown, 2009) ISBN 978-1-4087-0197-3
  • The Thick of It: The Missing DoSAC Files (Faber & Faber, 2010) ISBN 978-0-571-27254-9
  • I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan by Rob Gibbons, Neil Gibbons, Armando Ianucci and Steve Coogan (Harper Collins, 2011) ISBN 978-0007449170

Journalism[edit]

Audiobooks[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tucker v McBride: When satire met reality". The Independent (London). Archived from the original on 4 April 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Armando Iannucci biography and credits at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
  3. ^ Armando Iannucci interview, 23 October 2009
  4. ^ a b "Armando Iannucci writes his first novel". Chortle. 31 March 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  5. ^ http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2012-09-08/armando-iannucci-on-the-thick-of-it-steve-coogan-and-not-living-the-american-dream
  6. ^ a b "BBC Comedy - Armando Iannucci". BBC. 
  7. ^ "Interview: Armando Iannucci, writer and director". The Scotsman. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Tatler http://www.tatler.com/the-tatler-list/i/armando-ianucci
  9. ^ 60 SEONDS: Armando Iannucci [sic] at Metro.co.uk, Sunday, April 1, 2007
  10. ^ MEDIA DIARY - The war on humour
  11. ^ a b c Parker, Ian (26 March 2012). "Expletives not deleted". The New Yorker. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Sweney, Mark (12 October 2007). "Joan Collins in Post Office ad". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  13. ^ Wise, Damon (21 January 2009). "In the Loop at the Sundance Film Festival Utah". The Times (London). Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  14. ^ "Nominees for the 82nd Academy Awards". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 4 February 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2010. 
  15. ^ "Comedian sneaks into US State department". telegraph.co.uk (London). 8 May 2009. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. Retrieved 8 May 2009. 
  16. ^ "The A-Z of laughter (part two)". The Guardian (London). 7 December 2003. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  17. ^ "Armando Iannucci to lecture at Oxford on British comedy". ox.ac.uk. 18 January 2006. "
  18. ^ "Armando Iannucci named as Oxford University's next Broadcast Media Professor". ox.ac.uk. 2 November 2005. 
  19. ^ "British Comedy Awards 2011: Inbetweeners and Victoria Wood among winners". The Daily Telegraph (London). 17 December 2011. 
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60173. p. 10. 16 June 2012.
  21. ^ "Armando Iannucci: OBE 'won't stop me poking fun at politicians'". BBC News. 16 June 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  22. ^ "'Surreal and hilarious': Armando Iannucci receives an OBE". Daily Telegraph. 1 February 2013. 
  23. ^ a b Dougary, Ginny (8–14 September 2012), "The politics of humour", Radio Times, Vol 354 no 4608, Immediate Media Company, London, p.23.
  24. ^ Alexia Skinitis, "Armando Iannucci - Significant Others, The Times, 11 April 2009
  25. ^ Jones, Laura (23 April 2012). "Comedian takes plunge to aid baby unit". The Oxford Mail. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  26. ^ A who’s who of celebrity political endorsements, The Independent, retrieved 3 May 2010
  27. ^ [1]. The Guardian, retrieved 16 February 2011
  28. ^ Armando Iannucci BBC, Comedy, Interview 12th Dec 2004 bbc.co.uk
  29. ^ [2]"The Hollywood Reporter" 16 April 2011
  30. ^ tvthrong.co.uk
  31. ^ News Quiz Extra, 27 May 2011

External links[edit]